Students act out

Many involved in Festival of One Act Plays

Many involved in Festival of One Act Plays

November 12, 2002|by KEVIN CLAPP

Ruth Hobson peels off a yellow fleece pullover at 8:45 a.m. on a Friday, Smithsburg High students spilling into the school's auditorium around her.

It's time to go to work.

A pile of props rests at center stage, including a bunched up sandy blond wig and two oversize, cartoonish foam cowboy hats.

Jacqui Kalk, 17, runs lines with fellow students in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame Goes West," one of four productions in various stages of readiness one week before the inaugural Festival of One Act Plays at the school.


Picking up where they left off the day before, the student actors run lines with gusto, receive direction and goof off, as teens sometimes do.

In the eye of this manic storm is their teacher, Hobson, who is the drama queen behind the festival. Her inspiration was a similar exercise at Williamsport High School when she was a student.

To a student, the Smithsburg troupe has embraced the idea of the festival, where members of the freshman, sophomore, junior and senior classes will each produce a 30-minute one-act play at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16.

"I was really impressed at the initiative and organization," says 16-year-old junior Russell Hoyt. "It's a wonderful idea for students to be able to come together during school and put together these plays. It's a release and a lot of fun."

Not responsible for writing the scripts they are bringing to life, students have a hand in every other aspect of the festival.

They act, create props and undertake set design. Pairs of older students are directing the freshman and sophomore plays. Hobson is in charge of the senior show; Smithsburg biology teacher and fellow Williamsport High graduate Shawn Wetzel directs the junior production.

Remembering her experience at Williamsport High prompted Hobson to introduce the festival to the high school. Not only does it expand the drama department's reach, but by producing four smaller plays more students are introduced to the world of theater.

"Practice is always fun, especially with the seniors. It's probably more fun than I had with my high school because I get to be the person that gives this opportunity to the students," she says. "Of course, everyone wants to have a successful program. I thought this was a great way to get students from all over the school."

For the last month, students have met after school to rehearse twice a week. Beginning last week, and continuing through showtime, drama class time has been devoted to light design, set building and polishing the shows.

All four are comedies, though the similarities end there. And Hobson, who teaches drama and communications at Smithsburg, has decided the freshmen will square off against the sophomores, juniors vs. seniors.

Judges will be recruited to select a victor from each pairing. At stake: Likely a $100 contribution to the winning class accounts, which help fund prom and other activities.

Here then, is a tail of the tape:

Freshmen are producing "Three Boys and a Girl's Camp," a comedy where the title's boys mistake a girl's camp cabin for their uncle's.

In "Diane's Dream Date," a girl going on a blind date with a superstar tries to reinvent herself to meet what she thinks are his expectations. The romantic comedy, produced by sophomores, explores the differences between perception and reality.

Members of the junior class undertake "The Schwartz Metterklum Method." A family hires a nanny with unorthodox methods, such as acting out historical lessons to aid in the understanding of them.

Finally, seniors tackle "Hunchback," about two girls vying for a state high school drama competition championship, and the lengths they go to make sure they beat the other.

Jacqui and Tiffanie Lampasona, 17, not only appear in "Hunchback," but also co-direct the sophomore production. Each have been pleasantly surprised by how smoothly their first directing gig has proceeded, even if time is running short.

"I think it will all come together," Jacqui says during a rehearsal break. "It's just neat to see you're making a change in people, and you can sit back and watch a production and see you organized the entire thing."

Recruited to direct "Three Boys," juniors Caitlin Fitzwater and JenniLynn Hughes, both 16, are veterans of last year's school production of "Li'l Abner."

Like Jacqui and Tiffanie, the duo are first-time directors for the festival, a challenge they relish.

"It's good," Caitlin says about the results so far. "We have good kids, so when you have good kids you have a good play. They work pretty hard.

Hobson knew Smithsburg was a school that loved drama when "Li'l Abner" attracted 100 students to take part in all facets of the production.

Taking a break from directing, JenniLynn says it has been fun to try something different on the stage.

"I just like seeing the drama program doing more than the normal musical in the spring," JenniLynn says. "It gives people more opportunities to do stuff."

Festival of One Act Plays

2002 Festival of One Act Plays, presented by students at Smithsburg High School

7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 16


Smithsburg High School

66 N. Main St.


Tickets cost $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, students with ID, and ages 12 and younger.

For information or reservations, call 301-766-8337.

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